EUGENE ROBINSON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Finally, an authentic scandal: incompetence and deception at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Given what we know so far, more heads need to roll — and a criminal investigation should be launched.
Republicans have accused the Obama administration of so many faux scandals that it's hard to recognize the real thing. Yes, the Internal Revenue Service seems to have given extra scrutiny to conservative organizations, but it gave extra scrutiny to liberal groups, too. Yes, Operation "Fast and Furious" was a mistake, but it wasn't some kind of sinister plot. No, it doesn't matter whether the evil people who took four American lives in Benghazi , Libya, are called terrorists, militants or simply killers.
The VA situation, however, looks more serious day by day. If VA hospitals really are falsifying records to disguise lengthy waiting times — and if veterans are dying as a consequence — then President Obama needs to bring in new management to fix the problems and fast.
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, speaking Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation," described Obama as "madder than hell" about the VA scandal. By now, we should all be used to the fact that Obama is never what you would call demonstrative with his anger, at least publicly. No frothing, no foaming, no gnashing of teeth. I take McDonough at his word that the president is royally steamed.
MARK KARLIN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Now, it is getting personal: Someone is enabling circumstances that might result in my death, your death and the death of countless people around the world.
I am referring to an infamous statement Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) statement made in a May 11 interview with This Week:
Rubio - who expressed deep skepticism about whether man-made activity has played a role in the Earth's changing climate - told [ABC news reporter Jonathan] Karl he doesn't believe there is action that could be taken right now that would have an impact on what's occurring with our climate.
"I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it … and I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy," he said.
Given ongoing major reports, including last week, that we may have crossed the threshold into a catastrophic cauldron of brewing and already-present climate change, Rubio is condemning much of the earth to catastrophe and death.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Many wealthy Americans believe that dysfunctional behavior causes poverty. Their own success, they would insist, derives from good character and a strict work ethic. But they would be missing some of the facts. Ample evidence exists to show a correlation between wealth and unethical behavior, and between wealth and a lack of empathy for others, and between wealth and unproductiveness.
The poor, along with a middle class that is sinking toward them, make up the American meritocracy. Here is some of the evidence.
1. The Poor Don't Cheat As Much
An analysis of seven different psychological studies found that "upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals." A series of experiments showed that upper-class individuals were more likely to break traffic laws, take valued goods from others, lie in a negotiation, and cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize.
And this doesn't even begin to examine the many, many significant cases of fraudulent behavior in the banking industry. Or private equity firms that cheat their investors over 50 percent of the time. Or the many unscrupulous corporate tax avoidance strategies.
WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Two major stories are happening simultaneously that carry a predictably distinct odor of oil & gas: US control of Nigerian oil, and Ukrainian control of natural gas.
While climate change escalates to an emergency crisis, a growing national security concern, the US OILigarchy-government is on a "search and seize mission" for the very product that is obliterating our earth: Polluting Oil.
The earth is burning up before our eyes from trapped CO2 green house emissions—but that means very little to a government that is literally owned by oil firms. If a country is cursed with having oil, such as Nigeria or Venezuela, expect to see CIA-military intervention, deliberate incitements of violence, arrests of oil opponents, surveillance, PSYOPS,Blackwater (now operating under the new name , Academi LLC,) and drone attacks—all put into practice in the name of either "national security" or "humanitarian efforts."
In addition to South America, the Middle East and Africa, the US is also a new target for oil and gas drilling. With increased production, Americans have become the victims of Obama's "energy independence" agenda, which has produced an unprecedented number of oil and gas disasters that have poisoned our oceans, our rivers, our water supplies, and our agricultural lands due to gross negligence and a lack of regulatory oversight.
If US oil-gas companies have admitted to having former military psychological operations, or PSYOPs, specialists to counter opponents of drilling in the United States, you can be sure that they're applying the same techniques extensively in foreign oil-regions.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In an Op-Ed published in Time this week, 16-year-old Kenyatta Collins argues that the education that she receives in a New Orleans charter school more closely resembles a prison than a place that advances her knowledge and creativity.
"Is my high school, Lake Area New Tech, a prison or school?" Collins asks. Her response is a withering indictment of the white elite push to privatize education:
Students arrive ready for school every morning, but unfortunately must wait outside the building until security guards unlock the doors at 7:30 a.m. It could be raining, hailing, or sleeting, but they will NOT open the doors until then. Once the doors are unlocked, it takes the guards 15 to 20 minutes to search each student and check for uniform violations. That leaves us with just a few minutes to eat breakfast before class starts at 8 a.m. That’s not enough time for 600 students to make it through the cafeteria line. On a typical morning, we are treated like prisoners, which causes students to react in a variety of negative ways.
As for the prevailing attitudes among many whites - and some wealthy people of color - that discipline is the cure for presumed violent and economically depressed urban areas - Collins has a response:
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
according to a Truthout article, fast food strikes and protests are going global, as they should:Today,
Workers around the world are emulating the fast-food protests that started in New York in 2012. Their fight for dignity at work, better wages, stable hours, opportunities for advancement and no more wage theft has gone global.
On Thursday, May 15, in the largest job actions in the industry's history, fast-food workers in over 30 countries on 6 continents will participate in protests over poverty wages, lack of full-time positions, poor working conditions and management retaliation. US workers will protest in over 160 cities throughout the country, the tenth and largest round of strikes since the first actions in NYC in November 2012. Fast-food workers participating in the "Fight for 15" include those in Alabama, the Carolinas and other states not known for their labor activism....
While companies try to hide behind the franchise system and the rhetoric of "small business owners," fast-food employers are global corporations with billions of dollars in annual profits. Fast-food workers must fight for decent wages and conditions on a global level.
At a time when corporations are becoming increasingly global, to a great degree they are starting to supercede national boundaries in terms of their labor policies and impact. Yes, it's true that each nation has different laws regarding wages, employment policies, etc., but the overall global capitalist approach to pay workers as a little as possible lessens the impact of isolated national strikes. (It should be noted that according to the Truthout report, a few nations do have wage laws that require a fair salary for fast food workers – but not many and not the US.)
STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
review of the movie Noah, knowing that the Christian Right had their collective noses bent out of shape by the movie, I sought to gather some background on creationism. And so, I thought, what better place to go than the website that bears that name Creation.com. And what a fascinating visit it turned out to be.Recently, while preparing a
Now, I should think that there are those of you who might have only a foggy remembrance of the creation story from the Judeo-Christian Bible (JCB). Be that as it may, you should know that there are almost as many variants on the JCB creation story as there are translations of the original Hebrew text with subsequent variants in Greek and Roman which then underwent further translations into many languages running into the hundreds.
At any rate, in summary it goes something like this...
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Step on the gas, step on a man . . .
Writing recently in The Nation, Chris Hayes drew an intensely unnerving parallel between the use of fossil fuels as an energy source and the use of slave labor — not a moral parallel, but a financial one, though money and morality have a perversely symbiotic relationship. Where there's money to be made — especially enormous quantities of it — moral justifications come awfully cheap.
Hayes points out that the movement to end dependence on fossil fuels, drastically reduce carbon emissions and reverse global warming faces a financial hurdle of staggering proportions: ". . . the total amount of known, proven extractable fossil fuel in the ground at this very moment is almost five times the amount we can safely burn," he writes. Possession of this unexcavated carbon is claimed by global corporations: It's theirs to pull out of the ground, and it's worth . . . uh, somewhere between $10 and $20 trillion.
But there is, it turns out, a precedent for divesting rich and powerful people of a comparable amount of wealth, Hayes says. It was called the abolition movement.
By the time of the Civil War, some 4 million human beings were in bondage in the South — "owned," for God's sake: legally possessed and controlled to the last heartbeat. The precedent of slavery goes back to the beginning of human history, of course. Before the industrial era and the releasing of the energy of fossil fuels, the relatively privileged gained control over their environment by putting animals and other human beings to work for them. The moral and legal justifications for doing so accompanied the practice.
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Hard work, we're told, always pays off. Sure it does - ask a farmworker, a roofer, or a home health aide. In our economy, those doing the hardest work get the worst pay, the weakest job protections, the least respect and zero say in the way things work. Such laborers are the downest and outest people in our country's workforce, totally vulnerable to the boss' whims and not even allowed the legal right to organize for better treatment.
So what can they do? Organize!
To hell with taking "no" for an answer. Although these workers are poorly paid and treated, they're rich in spirit. Told they weren't allowed to organize, they went out and did it anyway. Groups such as the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida's vast agribusiness fields, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the National Domestic Workers Alliance have formed within occupational categories to rally and be advocates for millions of the hard-hit, previously voiceless and largely invisible people who do the back-breaking, sweaty, insecure, exhausting and thankless - yet essential - labor in our society.